Northern Harvest Smolt Hatchery increases production in Stephenville

Frank Gale
Published on July 3, 2014
The driver of a pickup truck awaits the opening of the gate at the entrance to the Northern Harvest Smolt Hatchery in Stephenville. — Photo by Frank Gale/The Western Star

A fish hatchery in Stephenville has increased production this spring by another half a million fish.

Shaun Macleod, manager of the Northern Harvest Smolt Inc. hatchery, said already 2.6 million salmon smolt have been transported to fish farms in the Coast of Bays area and that number should increase to three million by early next week.

He said that’s dependent on the company’s well boat returning by Sunday.

If it arrives on time, the fish will be transported from the plant to the boat Sunday and Monday.

The company’s well boat is used to transfer the S-1 salmon smolt, which grow to about 190 grams. Trucks transport the fish to the well boat, which docks at Port aux Basques.

Macleod said the process goes a lot faster when the company is able to ship the fish using the well boat, a large boat purchased in Norway and operated by a five-person crew.

Depending on size, the vessel can carry 150,000 to 200,000 fish in a run, with a two-day turnaround, resulting in a busy spring at the hatchery.

Another three quarters of a million fish will be shipped out in the fall, bringing total production this year to 3.75 million.

Macleod said overall the hatchery is operating well and the cycle of hatching new fish and growing them to the size needed at the farms will continue.